This is it -- Bonifacio Day, the last day of November.
I spent the morning wrapping Christmas gifts, so I'm feeling a little Christmassy. It is already Advent, after all, and the Advent spirit is a little contagious.
It's also wedding season, and I'm going to A WEDDING A WEEK over the next three weeks. Elaine's tomorrow, Meloy's next weekend, and Ganns and Cathy's the weekend after that.
Then I'll be on Christmas holiday, and in the midst of the wonderful craziness leading up to Christmas.
But it isn't Christmas yet; it's Advent.
A mentor of mine asked me, once, what my favorite Advent hymn was. "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," I replied without hesitation. He smiled at that and pressed for an explanation. "Because it isn't a happy hymn," I explained. "It's a song of yearning."
And that's what Advent is about.
It's about hope, and hope isn't a happy state. Hope arises when you are in the darkness, but you choose to turn towards a light you cannot see.
Whew. Most of my relatives have headed back home to their respective countries of residence.
Wednesday's services were quite an experience. We went to Bauan, my grandfather's hometown in Batangas, and like many funeral services, it was a grand reunion, with my uncles and aunts excitedly saying hello to people they hadn't seen in decades.
The town had prepared a necrological service for my grandfather, and I listened as many of my grandfather's friends and neighbors talked about a side of my grandfather I had never known. My cousin--who is named after my grandfather--sang a song.
My uncle also gave a very moving speech about coming home, which I think captured the meaning of the entire event. He had not been able to understand, he said, why my grandfather wanted to be buried at home. My grandfather had spent most of his life living in other countries, and had died abroad. Most of his children had long since settled abroad as well. But then, my uncle said, two things helped him to understand his father's wish. One was reading a newspaper column about my grandfather a few days ago, which said, "True to his love for his tradition, he will be buried in his hometown in Batangas." Another was the memory that my grandmother too, who had died in Israel, had been buried here in this little town in Batangas. Those, my uncle said, were what helped him to understand the lesson that his father was probably trying to teach him and his siblings--that despite the fact that most of his children had left the Philippines, "Ang di lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makararating sa pinaroroonan."
After the town-sponsored necrological service, we all processed down the street to the town Church, where we heard Mass. (The priest's homily was rather pathetic, but I won't go into that ....)
Afterwards, we got into our vehicles and headed for the cemetery. My grandfather's urn was in our van, and my uncle insisted that we take a detour and drive through the street where my grandfather used to live. "So that Papa Lolo can visit the place where he used to live," he explained to my nine-year-old nephew. So that's what we did.
Finally we arrived at the cemetery. My uncle led a prayer. There was a twenty-one gun salute, and the Philippine flag that had been draped on the stand which propped up my grandfather's urn was folded. The urn was placed in the grave, beside my grandmother's coffin, and we all put flowers inside the grave.
As the sealing of the grave began, we headed for the lunch reception in a restaurant in Batangas City. It was quite pleasant: everyone was a lot less stressed that they had been in the previous days, and the mood was sombre but warm and familial.
We headed back to Manila before three, and that was the end of my grandfather's funeral.
Jimmy Carter has spoken out against US foreign policy and has criticized the US government for not doing enough to eliminate its own chemical and biological weapons. Here is an excerpt from the AFP report, printed in today's Philippine Daily Inquirer (with versions on othernews sites) summarizing some of the points he made in his interview with Larry King:
"There is a sense that the United Sates has become too arrogant, too dominant, too self-centered, proud of our wealth, believing that we deserve to be the richest and most powerful and influential nation in the world," the 78-year-old Carter said.
US interests, too often based on oil or other resources, ignore many truly poor countries, while the United States is the stingiest contributor of foreign aid, he said. He also noted that the United States gives only one one-thousandth of its gross national product for international assistance, while the average European country gives four times as much.
"For every time an American gives a dollar, a citizen of Norway gives 17 dollars," he said.
Carter will be receiving the Nobel Peace Prize on Dec. 10.
Meanwhile, according to another AFP report, the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has also spoken out against the impending war on Iraq, calling military action the last resort, and urging the international community to pursue alternatives to such a conflict. I wonder whether the US Catholic Bishops' Conference will soon do the same.
Angie was in a bus with a group of people who have the same surname as me on her way back to Manila from Laoag. Kamag-anak ko ba raw, she asked. Most likely, I said. As far as I know, everyone in this country with my surname is related to me, and most certainly if they are from the Ilocos Region.
I've sometimes been a bit of a disappointment to my Ilocano relatives because I don't speak the language and barely even understand it, but I do feel proud of my roots. :)
This weekend, my mother's brothers and sisters shall start streaming into the country for the services for my grandfather....
And now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth
let’s not speak in any language,
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas,
wars with fire,
victory with no survivors, would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
(Life is what it is about,
I want no truck with death.)
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve,
and you keep quiet and I will go.
Spent a relaxing weekend in Caliraya with M's family.
School starts today (and I am quite unprepared).
Now heavier stuff.
My maternal grandfather passed away on Friday night (Manila time) in Chicago. The cremation will be (was?) held in Chicago, and then, unless plans change, my grandfather's remains will be brought here on Thursday. There will be a service on Friday, and then on Saturday, we all troop to Batangas for the funeral. As of now, it looks like most of my mother's ten surviving siblings will be flying into the country for the services.
I'm glad Hertsgaard wrote the book. It's about time. It's an answer any non-American could've easily given.
Why does the rest of the world hate America so much? As Hertsgaard says, the rest of the world for the most part doesn't hate American culture, or American values, or individual American people. America has given the world a lot of good, and most of the world is grateful for that. What most of the world hates is the history of American government policy towards the rest of the world. What most of the world hates is the way that the American government fights for democracy for its own people, but has repeatedly refused to treat other countries democratically, to treat other countries like equals. What much of the world hates is the way that the American government pretends to be the stronghold of democratic ideals, but has often supported the most oppressive regimes in the world for their own economic or political interest. (Philippine history is a prime example.) What most of the world hates is the way that the American government has insisted, many times, on imposing its will on the rest of the world, without listening to what the rest of the world has to say. In short, the American government likes to talk a lot, but they don't know how to listen.
I think I forgot to mention ... I celebrated my birthday last week. At my age, there is absolutely no denying that I am an adult. (A young adult, perhaps, but an adult nevertheless.) I do not feel like an adolescent, and I cannot relate to many of the references that adolescents make these days. (I am constantly reminded of this when I attempt to read blogs written by younger people--Gen Y-ers, that is.)
Read a few insightful lines about adolescence the other day:
... the heroes of most science fiction novels were perpetual adolescents, lone rangers who wandered the universe avoiding commitments. This shouldn't be surprising. The romantic hero is invariably one who is going through the adolescent phase of human life. The child phase--the one I had dealt with most ofeten in my fiction--is the time of complete dependence on others to create our identity and worldview....
Gradually, however, this dependency breaks down--and children catch the glimmers of a world that is different from the one they thought they lived in, they break away from the last vestiges of adult control themselves, much as a baby bird breaks free of the last fragments of the egg. The romantic hero is unconnected. He belongs to no community; he is wandering from place to place, doing good (as he sees it), but then moving on. This is the life of the adolescent, full of passion, intensity, magic, and infinte possibility; but lacking responsibility, rarely expecting to have to stay and bear the consequences of error. Everything is played at twice the speed and twice the volume in the adolescent--the romantic--life.
Only when loneliness becomes unbearable do adolescents root themsleves, or try to root themselves. It may or may not be community of their childhood, and it may or may not be their childhood identity and connections that they resume upon entering adulthood. And, in fact, many fail at adulthood and constantly reach backward for the freedom and passion of adolescence. But those who achieve it are the ones who create civilization.
-- Orson Scott Card, from the introduction to Speaker for the Dead (on my reading list thanks to M's influence).
"But those who achieve it or the ones who create civilization." I really like that line. :)
The Pope has recommended a set of five new mysteries to the Catholic prayer of meditation known as the Rosary. He calls this new set of mysteries, the "Mysteries of Light" or the "Luminous Mysteries" The meditations center on five events in the public life of Jesus (I got the scriptural references from the Pope's apostolic letter):
(1) First Luminous Mystery: Christ is Baptized in the Jordan (Mt 3:17 and parallels; also see 2 Cor 5:21)
(2) Second Luminous Mystery: Christ is made known at the Wedding of Cana (Jn 2:1- 12)
(3) Third Luminous Mystery: Christ proclaims the Kingdom and Calls All to Conversion (Mk 1:15, 2:3-13; Lk 7:47- 48; also see Jn 20:22-23)
(4) Fourth Luminous Mystery: The Transfiguration (Lk 9:35 and parallels)
(5) Fifth Luminous Mystery: Jesus gives us the Eucharist (Jn 13:1)
(Click here for more comprehensive Scriptural meditations, here for a cross-referenced version of the Pope's apostolic letter, here for a printer-friendly version of the letter, and here for an article on how people are reacting to the New Mysteries.)
I still have a bit of a Hong Kong hangover: I haven't even completely unpacked my things yet. Except of course for M's and my new toys, including an MP3 player and a digicam. We also bought a tent for camping, and M bought a new tennis racquet (which he's used twice already). And I bought two books, one of which I've almost finished reading already.
This past weekend, on the other hand, was the Nov. 1 - 2 holiday. I went with my aunt to the cemetery on the 2nd and spent a few hours there.
And today, back to work .... The semester begins next week, and at the end of this week I'll be busy with reg duty, so this really is the only time I have to prepare my syllabus .... Sigh ... I wish sembreak were longer ....